How to Get Motivated

How to Get Motivated
Photo Credit: g-stockstudio / iStockPhoto.com
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Motivation: Finding, Keeping, and Harnessing the Power

For those who have it, anything seems possible; they could run marathons, climb mountains, read every page of their favorite book series, and put a new roof on the house, all while being a fantastic parent and spouse. For them, life seems easy.

Others are not so fortunate; they work incredibly hard, but still cannot accomplish their goals. The morning starts with such promise before it gives way to a day where nothing gets crossed off of their list.

The Power of Motivation

The difference between these two groups may be motivation —the desire to do something. Higher desire is related to higher motivation; if motivation is high enough, many things are possible.
This is why motivation becomes the brass ring so many aspire to capture. If only you had more motivation, you would be able to:

  • Get a better job
  • Make more money
  • Lose weight
  • Clean the house
  • Go back to school
  • Be happier
  • Have a better relationship

When your motivation is low, it seems like everyone else is getting exactly what they want, and you get pushed away from your desires. It seems like you will be destined to a life of low motivation.

There is hope, though. Some people are born with high motivation as a natural ability. Everyone else needs to take small, practical steps towards increasing their motivation slowly and over time to build the characteristic as a skill.

Life would be simpler if motivation was ingrained, but finding and maintaining the motivation you want is possible. Here’s how:

Inspect Yourself

People that have poor motivation may fall into the bad habit of blaming outside forces for their deficits. They may accuse other people or things for standing in the way of their success.
Often, though, the individual may be their own worst enemy. They may put up barriers that separate themselves from their desires.

Inspect yourself by thinking about what would happen if you accomplished your goals. How would it change your life? How would people around you respond?

Look past the superficial answers to gain a true perspective of possible fears and hesitations that would accompany your accomplishment.

Another factor that must be assessed is your current health, both mental and physical. People with depression have notoriously poor motivation. In fact, it is one of the criteria to have the diagnosis.

Anxiety is another condition that will limit motivation by injecting worry and trepidation into every decision and behavior. This can create a period of stagnation where nothing is done.

In a similar way, physical health issues can wreck motivation. If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or another condition that affects energy levels and creates fatigue, it can be impossible to tell the true source of motivation problems.

Whether the issue is mental or physical, the solution is the same: seek out and stay consistent with treatment to shrink or eliminate those barriers.

Align Your Goals to Change Inertia

Once the hurdles are removed, you can refocus your efforts on what you want to be motivated towards and the appropriateness of these goals. People often think motivation will influence the goals, but it can work both ways, as the goals you set will have a direct impact on your level of motivation.

For example, setting a goal that is unrealistically challenging or complex will result in decreased motivation. Why even try if failure is certain?

If a lack of motivation has been a concern, you must set goals that are short-term and easy to complete. Setting a goal of running a marathon will be a terrible idea because the process is too long and the reward is not immediate.

For best results, you have to work to change your inertia, a term from physics that applies to motivation quite well. When your motivation is low, you have no inertia; you are an object at rest and will continue to stay at rest.

To build inertia, you have to move slowly and steadily to gain movement in a direction. The beginning is the most challenging, but the task will become easier with time. Once inertia is established, you will be able to reduce your work and coast for periods.

Set goals that give you instant feedback — ones that can be accomplished immediately. By setting and completing a small goal, you can set and complete additional goals within a short amount of time, building momentum and inertia along the way.

Risk and Reward

At the heart of motivation is the battle between risk and reward. Continuing on the idea of physics, each action has an equal and opposite reaction — what will be the reaction to your accomplishment? If the reaction is nonexistent or negative, motivation will be in short supply.

Some accomplishments have the reward ingrained, so they offer intrinsic motivation.

For example, cleaning the living room to feel a sense of accomplishment, and cutting your neighbor’s grass to earn $20. The best way to achieve motivation is by boosting the reward and minimizing the risk.

If someone asks you to clean the toilet, it could be perceived as a low motivation task. If someone explains that cleaning the toilet will earn you a new car, the motivation increases dramatically.
The problem becomes finding rewards that provide you with a motivational boost.

Bring in Support

This is a good opportunity to utilize the trusted supports in your life. These people can provide rewards like words of encouragement or gifts.

Another good way to utilize friends is by giving them rewards to hold for you until you accomplish the desired task. This way they can reinforce your behaviors without much effort on their part.

Avoid using punishment when involving supports or building your own motivation. Punishment or threat of unwanted consequences may trigger immediate motivation, but your goals will become associated with negative feelings long-term. Stay upbeat, positive, and optimistic.

Motivation is not an easy feature to attain. Much of the progress can be made by understanding yourself and the goals you want to achieve. From there, understanding your risks and rewards while employing the assistance of your supports will make motivation a reality.